Sept. 1, 2011
By Bruce Madej
"One night I was just flipping through the channels, and I had just gotten back late from Schembechler Hall, and the Big Ten Network had the 1993 Rose Bowl," said Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who returns to U-M after previously coaching the Wolverines from 1992-96. "I saw Chris Hutchinson and said 'Man, was he good.' So there's a guy that was 6-1 1/2 and he was no more than 250 pounds, and he would beat anybody he went against because he had unbelievable technique and he played with a motor that was unreal. He had a passion for the game and he was the kind of guy who, when he hit the sled, you wouldn't have to tell him to do it again -- he would know if it wasn't like how you wanted it, and he would say 'Let me get another rep on this.'"
That was Chris Hutchinson the defensive tackle, who started 39 games for the Maize and Blue from 1989-92. No. 97 was a tri-captain in his senior campaign and voted the team's MVP that season. Big Ten Conference Champions in 1992, Michigan went on to defeat Washington in the Rose Bowl.
If you meet Chris Hutchinson today, you would believe he has been a Michigander all his life. The Houston, Texas, native made the trek from Cypress High School in 1989 and has never looked back.
"When I visit my friends back home they call me a 'Yankee,'" Hutchinson laughs. "I think I am going to live in Michigan for the long haul."
While the University of Michigan is the main reason Dr. Chris Hutchinson now resides in Plymouth, Mich, and works as an emergency room doctor at Beaumont Hospital, it might have been a tetanus shot that gave him an early start in the medical profession.
In 1992, the Wolverine co-captain had an amazing season. He was named All-American and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Hutchinson signed as a free agent the Cleveland Browns. Current New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was the Browns' head coach at that time and current Alabama head football coach Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. Woody Widenhofer, a close friend of then U-M defensive coordinator Lloyd Carr, was Hutchinson's position coach.
A few days after he received his physical and tetanus shot during the Cleveland Browns' training camp, Hutchinson decided to give up football and return to the University of Michigan to get his degree in medicine.
"After the first couple of days of practice I was so sore, I didn't know what was going on," said Hutchinson. "I was training just like before and I was so tired. I thought I was out of shape.
"I just had tunnel vision getting ready for the season, but when I was stretching I hurt," added Hutchinson. "I was racking my brain, trying to figure out 'What did I do wrong.' I was having problems with my back and it just seemed someone was telling me it was time to move on."
Fast forward 10 years later, and now Hutchinson has another tetanus shot.
"It took me 10 years to figure out what the problem was but the next time I received a tetanus shot, the same thing happened to me," said Hutchinson. "I was so tired, and so sore, I didn't know what was happening."
Then he remembered his junior high school days. A tetanus shot created the same condition.
"I can't believe it took me 10 years to figure out what was wrong with me back then," said Hutchinson. "After all that time, it finally made sense to me."
Hutchinson then used his NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship to attend the University of Michigan Medical School and get a jump start on his current career.
While medical school gave him the majority of the tools he uses today to decipher a plethora of patient problems in the emergency room, football has been a useful tool.
"I know it may sound corny, but especially in the ER, it is all about teamwork," said Hutchinson. "The doctors are like the quarterback, they get the recognition.
However, if it wasn't for the nurses, techs and everyone, else my job would be unbearable.
"I tell the residents that there are nurses who are getting mistreated, so respect the nurses," adds Hutchinson. "Know your role and even though you are like the quarterback and get the recognition, if you don't give those individuals the proper recognition they deserve for the things they have to go through, it will be a very difficult career."
Today Hutchinson enjoys his role in the emergency room at Beaumont Hospital. The challenges are many, but it is a life he loves.
He still closely follows football and makes four to five games a year. He also makes sure he doesn't work on the days the Wolverines play Michigan State or Ohio State.
"I stay close to Michigan football and now that Curt Mallory is an assistant coach, it makes it that much more fun," said Hutchinson. "He was my roommate for five years and he was my best man in my wedding. I was tickled pink when he got the job here."
Football has played an important role in Hutchinson's life. The fact he was a student-athlete helped lead him to this career. Off the field he was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and was awarded the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar).
He has parlayed his football days and his U-M education into a great career and a wonderful family. He even met his wife Melissa at U-M and now they have three children; Mia (14), Aria (12) and Aidan (10) that make life worthwhile.
Now Dr. Hutchinson helps people in need at Beaumont. And to think, if it was not for a tetanus shot, his medical career could have taken him to another state and hospital. He now will remain a Michigander and he has no plans on leaving -- or taking another tetanus shot.